By: Dan Selock, Elder
First Presbyterian Church in Marion had an Evangelism Town Hall Meeting in April of 2019. Members and staff reviewed our current Mission and Vision Statements and decided that neither describe us very well. The Mission Statement is intended to explain, “What we do,” and the Vision Statement is meant to clarify, “What we hope to do.” Our group of 14 conversed.
The Town Hall group was interested in modifying the Vision Statement first. After making a few small changes, we considered the first part of the Statement to be relevant: “We at First Presbyterian Church of Marion, Illinois, desire to be a church that seeks, trusts, and demonstrates the love of Jesus Christ for the redemption of the world through…da, da, da.” We then spent the rest of the meeting discussing the “Da, da, da.” There were so many questions to address. The original statement just seemed to fall flat for us; it didn’t seem to be functional these days. Maybe it’s too bland. Possibly the Statement is too long. Does it really describe the type of church we are in 2019, are we keeping up with the 21st Century? Are we an “open and affirming” congregation? Do we agree with full participation of those in the LBGTQ community? We know most of us are open, but are we also affirming? Actually, do we know who/what we are?
What is “diversity” anyway? Does that refer to race, ethnicity, faith journey, sexual orientation, age, or gender? Or, does diversity mean appreciating all beliefs, ranging from conservative to liberal, as we work together to achieve our mission. The group decided an element of our vision statement should be, “We wish to live-out our faith without division.” As a family of faith, we should be mutually tolerant.
By the end of the meeting, we agreed that we don’t want evangelism without relationship, and we need to find a space in which we can agree on the essentials and disagree on the non-essentials. Two essentials are, (1) recognize Jesus at the center of our faith journey and (2) a commitment to missions. We agreed to embrace diversity by following the ministry of Jesus Christ and by expanding our mission work. We feel every disciple is to be an agent of the kingdom of God and carry the mission of God into every sphere of life. We are to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt.28:19).